With the boat out of the water for a few weeks while the final maintenance and checks were made, Nathalie and I grabbed the chance to hire a car and head south from the Gold Coast for a few days. The hinterland of the far north coast of NSW beckoned. It's a part of the country that has it's own unique character and that's just the people! Mention Nimbin to anyone that knows this town in the hills and thoughts turn to hippies, dope and the Age of Aquarius. (We did visit Nimbin and we reckon most of the 70's hippies are still there, just that now they are all 70+ years old).
One thing that strikes you about the area is how lush and green everything is. It's strikingly beautiful in places and very, very idyllic. It's not hard to see how the alternative lifestyle types took root there.
Northern NSW Hinterland & CoastApril, 2019
Leaving the Gold Coast, we made our way through the country roads that wind their way south towards Murwillumbah. Every view was quite striking as the the hinterland unfolded in front of us. A quick stop at the waterfall at Springbook National Park and we spotted the first of two snakes for the day. I'm no longer a youngster and have seen a lot of Australia but I have rarely seen any snakes in the wild. Europeans are paranoid about Australian snakes so now Nathalie wasn't very convinced when I have been telling here for years don't worry about the snakes. C'est la vie.
We stayed for two nights at an Air BnB in the hills behind Burringbar. A great taste of the hinterland lifestyle, the house was set high on a hill with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, rainforest and valley below. The little town was full of character and we went down to the local pub to play pool each night and met quite a few of the locals. One took a shine to Nathalie and gave her some billiards playing tips (and now she beats me more often than not).
Next stop was Yamba on the coast where we stayed with Jean-Marie and Valerie, clients of mine who generously welcomed us into their home for a few days. Being French, it was a great for Nathalie to have some 'normal' conversation again. They have travelled every nook and cranny of Australia, much more than the vast majority of Australians and I learnt a lot about outback Australia from them!
One highlight of our stay there was visiting the town of Maclean on Easter Saturday. The 115th Highland Gathering was on so it was time to introduce Nathalie to a bit of Scottish tradition and culture, Australian style. When I was a kid, Dad used to take the family to highland gatherings all over Victoria so it was a bit of a flashback for me. Watch the video and see if the massed band does anything for you when they strike up Amazing Grace.
A quick stop at Byron Bay as we headed back north was fleeting. School holidays is not a good time to be in Byron but I did get to show Nathalie a little of it's charms.
A highlight was a beach day at Kingscliff, swimming in the river, playing in the surf and then a lunch on the deck of the surf life saving club. It was ANZAC Day so a two-up game had started up in a marque on the front lawn of the club. It doesn't get much more Aussie than this.
So after a week of exploring, it was back to the marina and the boat. A fantastic part of Australia to visit, mark it down on the bucket list if you ever get the chance.
And now it's just a few days until we set sail north on the Big Lap for real. Next time I write it will be from somewhere up the Queensland coast........